Frequently Asked Questions

HOME | LETTER TO THE CITY COUNCIL | PRESS RELEASESHOW YOUR SUPPORT

What is the issue?

The Morgan County Hospital Authority has signed a letter of intent to sell the former Morgan Memorial Hospital building to Flashpoint Recovery, a licensed hospital providing acute and behavioral health care (also known as a high-end drug rehabilitation facility). Selling the building would bring substantial tax revenue to the city of Madison and create new jobs. However, the city has refused to issue a zoning letter that would allow the sale to move forward.

Is the Hospital Authority trying to circumvent city zoning laws?

No. This is not a new request or an “end around” of zoning laws. In an attempt to partner with the city to repurpose Morgan Memorial Hospital, the Hospital Authority first raised the issue of the property’s zoning in 2018. At that time, the zoning ordinance allowed a hospital on the property as a permitted use and no action was required if another hospital used the property. Following our discussions, the city provided a zoning letter that interpreted its ordinance to include a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center as a “hospital use.” However, the city contradicted itself in the same letter by saying another hospital would have to apply for and receive a conditional use permit. We have requested a corrected zoning letter confirming that the use of the Morgan Memorial Hospital site by another hospital is an authorized use and provided strong legal justification for our request.

We have always communicated proactively and transparently with city administrators in an effort to resolve this issue. We are disappointed those efforts have not been successful. Unfortunately, the property’s zoning is a recurring issue with potential buyers and we simply can’t afford to waste another two years waiting for the city to act.

Why not just follow the city’s zoning process and allow a public hearing?

The city is demanding the Hospital Authority go through a time-consuming, uncertain and expensive legal process that we do not believe is required under the city’s interpretation of the zoning ordinance. Why should the Hospital Authority and another hospital company be expected to jump through unnecessary hoops?

Why the rush?

Unfortunately, we’re now in a position where time is of the essence. Any serious buyer willing to pay market value  – including Flashpoint Recovery – wants a shovel-ready site with all zoning permissions completed. That’s why we first approached city administration regarding the property’s zoning more than two years – and four potential buyers – ago. Since that time, the city has refused to engage with us to work toward a resolution or even respond with a single, substantive, legal or practical objection. A zoning action could take 12 months or more and cost many thousands of dollars. The Hospital Authority continues to incur significant expense (over $120,000 annually) to maintain a building that has gone largely unused. We cannot stay in limbo forever.

Why a behavioral health hospital? Can’t the Hospital Authority find a different buyer that will have a more positive impact on the neighborhood and our community?

Over the last three years, the only serious buyers willing to pay fair market value have been behavioral health hospitals.

Like all areas of medicine, substance abuse treatment has come a long way in the last few decades. Best practices include acute care and inpatient behavioral health treatment. It’s important to look beyond common myths and biases – especially as it relates to this hospital. Flashpoint Recovery will provide a valuable, much-needed and community-friendly service to high net worth clients who have voluntarily chosen to enter treatment.

More importantly, the proposed treatment center will be largely invisible and far safer than an aging, underutilized building. Because it will only provide inpatient hospital care, neighbors will not have to deal with ambulances or traffic at all hours of the day. The potential buyers have committed to investing $3 million to make renovations and additions. Further, the development will generate a significant economic impact for Madison, creating additional tax revenues, an estimated 80 high-paying jobs, and significant spending with local businesses.

But is this type of facility the best option?

Potential buyers willing to pay fair market value have been limited to other health care providers. While the current zoning would allow for the operation of a health care facility such as a nursing home, assisted living/memory care facility or other types of rehab centers and day clinics, our community has limited need for additional providers in these areas.

Why haven’t I heard more about this?

We’ve been working directly with city administrators in an attempt to resolve this issue for more than two years. From the very beginning, we have worked in good faith and transparently shared information with the city. We are disappointed city officials have not been receptive to these efforts. We’re sharing this information now in an effort to separate fact from fiction. It’s our belief that when people truly understand the facts around the proposed development, they will recognize the significant benefits it offers to both the neighborhood and our community.

Why is the Hospital Authority suing the city? Can’t you resolve this out of court?

The Hospital Authority is filing an action asking the Court to issue a ruling interpreting the zoning laws governing the use of the property. We are not asking for our significant damages. Taking legal action of any kind was certainly not our first choice, however we have a duty to consider what is best for the hospital and the community.